My neighbor called me yesterday afternoon to see if I was planning to attend another neighbor’s Superbowl party. “Nope,” I told her. “My sinuses are about to explode, my kids are exhausted, and it’s a school night. Are you going?”
“Yeah,” she groaned. “But I have a migraine, and I really don’t feel like going.”
“Then don’t go,” I said. “Send your husband with the kids so you can stay home and take advantage of a quiet house.”
“I don’t know. I would feel bad if I didn’t go.”
And there it was: the guilt. The guilt that we busy women pile on ourselves for not doing things we think we SHOULD be doing. My friend was going to make herself attend a silly Superbowl party with a migraine simply because she felt she needed to show her face, because she would have felt guilty had she stayed home and parked herself on the couch to enjoy the silence.
I’m guilty of the self-induced guilt myself. Yesterday morning I woke up with those yucky first throat tickles and sniffles of a cold. For the first 2 hours of my day, I sat on the couch with a heating pad on my neck and a magazine in hand. Big C was at a sleepover and Little C was either watching tv or playing on the computer. It was the perfect opportunity to allow my body to rest, to catch up on the stack of magazines I’ve been neglecting, to enjoy a relaxing day of nothingness.
But I couldn’t enjoy the nothingness. And I couldn’t focus on the magazine I was reading because my mind was racing with all the things I SHOULD be doing. I should be vacuuming. I should be writing. I should be giving the dog a bath. I should be getting my car washed. I should be playing Candy Land with Little C. I should be returning emails. I should be getting ahead on lesson plans. I should be doing something productive instead of doing nothing.
So I made myself do something productive. I went for an 8 mile run. (I never claimed moderation to be one of my strengths.) When I got home, you guessed it, I felt even worse than I did before the run. But I guilted myself into my running shoes because I’m so unaccustomed to doing nothing. And the nothingness just felt wrong.
Most of my days are GO GO GO. I have to squeeze everything into a tight schedule. (For instance, I have exactly 43 minutes to compose this blog post or else I’ll have to push it back several hours.) Even then, most things on my to-do list simply don’t get done because I’m out of either time or energy. I don’t typically have the luxury of doing nothing. But on days like yesterday when I actually do find the time for nothingness, I guess I need to take full advantage of it without feeling guilty.
After I got off the phone with my friend, I realized I should take my own advice. So I put the kids to bed super early, snuggled back onto the couch with my heating pad and a fuzzy blanket, turned the Superbowl on just to see what all the fuss was about, and let myself enjoy a couple hours of nothingness.
And it was awesome.
Do you ever just sit and enjoy the nothingness? Do you ever feel guilty for taking some time out to do absolutely nothing?